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David Baker (JD '79) Receives Sports Leadership Award

Baker was honored by the March of Dimes Greater New York Market at its 34th Annual Sports Luncheon

From the Pro Football Hall of Fame:

Pro Football Hall of Fame President & CEO David Baker has been named the recipient of the prestigious March of Dimes Sports Leadership Award for 2017. Baker was honored by the March of Dimes Greater New York Market at its 34thAnnual Sports Luncheon on Tuesday, November 28, at the New York Hilton. Ford Motor Company serves as Presenting Sponsor and the NFL as Luncheon Sponsor of the event, which is attended by more than 700 leaders and influencers in the sports business industry. Over its 33-year history, the Sports Luncheon has raised more than $14 million to support the March of Dimes.

Each year, March of Dimes honors the outstanding achievements of men and women in the sports industry. Past recipients include NFL great Peyton Manning, New York Yankees legend Mariano Rivera, NHL Hall of Famer Mark Messier, baseball icons Mickey Mantle and Cal Ripken, Jr., tennis luminaries Andre Agassi and Venus Williams, basketball superstar Patrick Ewing, and the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team.

Baker joins a long list of distinguished winners of the Sports Leadership Award that includes NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, NBA Commissioner David Stern, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig.

“My heartfelt appreciation goes out to the committee who selected me. I thank the Luncheon’s Chair Sean McManus of CBS Sports and his prominent group of co-chairs: Mark Lazarus, Peter Nelson, David Levy, Eric Shanks and John Skipper,” Baker commented. “I am deeply humbled to be recognized with such a distinguished award. I accept this on behalf of all our Hall of Famers, the Hall’s Board of Trustees, a dedicated staff, and our valued partners who, together, are using the values learned from this great game to make a difference in the lives of others.”

Since being named the President of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014, Baker’s leadership has transformed the institution. He has embarked on an endeavor that has dramatically expanded the Hall of Fame’s brand by focusing on the organization’s powerful Mission to “Honor the Heroes of the Game, Preserve its History, Promote its Values & Celebrate Excellence EVERYWHERE.”

Under his guidance and leadership, the Pro Football Hall of Fame has greatly expanded programming across the country; experienced increased television ratings; received broader exposure of the Hall’s Mission, Values and Vision; and recorded the greatest financial results in the organization’s 53-year history. In his first three years at the Hall, the organization’s net assets grew an astonishing 161%.

He is also leading Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village, a nearly $800 million mixed-use project that will result in the first-ever sports and entertainment “smart city.” Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village will transform the Hall’s campus into “Football Heaven” for all who love the Game. The dynamic project, consisting of 10 main components, will be completed to coincide with the NFL’s Centennial Celebration in 2020.

Baker is an attorney by trade who earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature and Criticism from the University of California at Irvine and his Juris Doctorate from the Pepperdine School of Law. He played professional basketball in Switzerland and worldwide with a Christian basketball team that beat the best in the world. He was elected Mayor and Councilman of Irvine, Calif., the country’s first master-planned city.

He also served as the Commissioner of the Arena Football League for 12 years. Fueled by his establishment of the first-ever Mission Statement and Fan Bill of Rights in sports, the Arena Football League brand grew dramatically as the most fan-friendly league in the world. Team values escalated from $175,000 to $32 million due, at least in part, to Baker’s ability to negotiate television contracts and his tireless work to establish partnerships with the NFL and major sponsors.

From 2009 to 2014, he served as the Managing Partner for Union Village, the first integrated health village in the world that is located in Henderson, Nevada. The $1.3 billion mixed-use project will provide 17,000 jobs in the community created for 1,500 seniors.

With a focus on the Hall of Fame’s five core values – commitment, integrity, courage, respect and excellence – Baker leads by example at the “The Most Inspiring Place on Earth!”